Tag: books

#BrackenIsBack… and then some

The second part of our Ben Bracken news comes with the announcement that my great publishers Endeavour Media have given the go-ahead for another Ben Bracken thriller, due Summer 2019. I’m absolutely delighted by this news, and elated to be bringing more Ben Bracken to readers.

THE PENNY BLACK will see Ben Bracken in exile, only for his new home to fall victim to a siege only he can prevent. It’s another action-packed instalment set in the quiet river systems of the Norfolk Broads, a setting more used to the booming of bitterns than gunfire.

But… we aren’t stopping there. Far from it, because we’ve got another surprise in store.

Till Morning Is Nigh

Bracken will be back again at Christmas 2019, with another series instalment in TILL MORNING IS NIGH. That’s right, two Ben Bracken novels are coming in 2019.

TILL MORNING IS NIGH sees Bracken return to Manchester with a poisoned chalice, faced with resolving a high-profile kidnapping under the twinkling fairy lights of the holiday season.

I’ve had a blast putting these together, and can’t wait to unleash them on readers this year. Speaking of my readers, thanks so much to all of you – for reading and reviewing, for supporting and sharing the news and updates, thank you all so much. Eternally grateful – and huge thanks as always to Endeavour Media, the entire team there, and my agent Linda Langton.

Cheers all, and, as Samuel L Jackson famously said in JURASSIC PARK, ‘hold onto your butts’.

A new name, a new look…

Behind the scenes, the cogs have been whirring for some time on what’s coming next in my writing career, and after a great deal of discussion, I can happily report the answer to this will be: A LOT.

The news and plans will be dripped through as things are confirmed, but myself and my super publishers Endeavour Media are going to release the first bit of news this week, then the next the week after.

So this week, I’m thrilled to be able to confirm that Ben Bracken is coming back, and not only that, but he’s coming back with a whole new look – not just for future books, but for the whole series. So that means A Wanted Man and Morte Point are going to look a little different on shelves…

Boom, goes the dynamite. I’m absolutely delighted with this dynamic and exciting look for the series, and these covers are in place right away in the marketplace. You can check them out in the wild here and here! This will be reflected in paperbacks from the next print run.

For those paying attention, you’ll notice something else too is different… my name. That’s right, after some deliberation, I’ll now be writing as Rob Parker, as opposed to Robert.

I feel like now is a good time to change, and a good time to make a step forward – plus the giant literary career of a certain Robert B Parker will always be there, and I can now sidestep that a touch! This change is pretty small, but took some persuading of me – but then I realised that everyone I’ve met in the industry knows me as Rob anyway! This makes things much simpler.

Huge thanks to my agent Linda Langton, and everyone at Endeavour Media, especially Rufus Cuthbert and James Faktor. Thanks for the support, hope you dig the new look, and tune in same time next week on 15th March for the next instalment of Bracken news – which is a biggie…

Flowers Over The Inferno

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A pint of Guinness and a good book is a combination that can’t readily be beaten.

Last week, I was in the throes of reading an advance copy of Flowers Over The Inferno by Ilaria Tuti (thanks to Netgalley and Orion!), and I knew I was onto something. It was gradually carving out that corner which exists in every reader, where pure, enthralled enjoyment is stored. It’s only now that I’ve finished it, that I’m able to look back stunned, satisfied and delighted, and not only will it easily be one of my favourite books of the year, I think it’ll come to sit comfortably amongst my favourite books of all time.

So surprising and constantly developing in ways I didn’t expect, it’s a tale delivered with a most skilled and composed touch. There is no easy way out, no cheating, in a story that, like all great works, challenges and pushes the reader to ask difficult questions of themselves while exploring a variety of themes so core and key to the very nature of the human condition, thus rendering the book relatable to us all. And it isn’t just the fact that Tuti explores these themes, moreover it’s the juggle, balance and journey through these themes that deliver us to the most satisfying of conclusions.

Descriptively, we are in heaven with Traveni and its surroundings, while the characters that inhabit the village are fully realised and drawn in absorbing detail – granting the reader complete immersion in the world Tuti has created. When I look back at all the books that have truly meant something to me, a strong sense of place is prevalent in all, and here is no exception. I could feel the cold, sense the isolation, and taste the fear.

Now looking back, I realised that I was constantly slowing myself down so I could savour it, and there is so much more that I want to say, but I know I’d give away too much. The joy in this book is in its delivery and thoughtfulness, not to mention being truly thrilling.

I have a little shelf at home for my favourite books ever, and there just might be a new title sitting alongside Benchley’s Jaws, Golding’s The Spire and Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse 5 – in fact, I’d put money on it.

REVIEW: ‘Run And Hide’ by Alan McDermott

DlMdiUJW0AEV-hQI’d been a fan of Alan McDermott’s work for some time, having got hooked on the high-octane, pure thrills of his excellent Tom Gray series – so when I was afforded the opportunity of an early read of his new book, Run and Hide, I leapt at the chance.

This is the first book of an all new series featuring Eva Driscoll, an ex-operative for the US government, who plummets headlong into the shady conspiratorial world at the top of the American power structures. Simply, her brother is dead, and she wants to know why – and avenge him.

She is a marvellous creation – a leather-clad, highly-trained, woman-of-mass-destruction with guts, grit and smarts. The plot that she uncovers, and the circumstances under which her brother’s death was arranged, I found both enthralling and highly topical, with the nature and responsibility of power one of the key issues explored.

The book moves along breathlessly, yanking the reader with a firm grip, as forces circle on Eva and her cohorts. I got the firm sense that McDermott is not just creating a world for his characters to maraud through, but expanding on the wider literary world he has created, with the welcome return of certain characters from his other works.

As we progress to the kind of conclusion most blockbuster movies wouldn’t have the chutzpah to even attempt, I found myself asking broader questions of myself and my own feelings on the question of taking orders and executing them without asking for an explanation – and what the effects of your instructed actions can have in the long term. I thought of the power distant hands carry, keeping clean while the dirty work is done at a comfortable distance, and what the costs of this are. In the modern political climate, it was without doubt a thought-provoking read.

In summary, Run and Hide, is full-throttle, topically-prescient entertainment of the highest order. Driscoll is a new creation that will have you rooting for her without question or pause, and will earn a great number of fans, old and new – and I’m personally delighted to see that the follow up, Seek and Destroy, is coming November 14th… because after that ending, I need to find out what happens and sharpish.

Run and Hide is published by Thomas and Mercer and is available here:

http://amzn.eu/j9pHHri

COVER REVEAL: CROOK’S HOLLOW

Crook's+Hollow+eimageThrilled to share the cover art and preorder information for my next book, ‘Crook’s Hollow’, coming from Black Rose Writing on 22nd March 2018.
 
BLURB:
 
“In the quiet village of Crook’s Hollow, almost exactly between Manchester and Liverpool, land and pride are king.
 
And now someone has just tried to kill Thor Loxley – but Thor has no clue as to why. As the estranged youngest of the omnipresent Loxley farming dynasty, all of whom view him as a traitorous turncoat, in a village where everybody knows everybody else’s business, life is hard enough. But here, farmers do things the old way. You deal with problems on your own terms. You keep everything in house where possible. You avoid involving the authorities. With nobody to turn to, Thor sets out to uncover who wronged him.
 
But with corrupt land developers circling, the rival Crook family seeking to unsettle the Loxley’s at every turn, his own family despising him, and jealous old acquaintances lurking, the mystery plunges ever deeper – and up floats more greed, betrayal, secrecy and blood than Thor could possibly imagine.”
 
EARLY PRAISE FOR ‘CROOK’S HOLLOW’:
 
“Robert Parker’s stunning second book is a fast-paced and tense thriller set in rural northern England. Opening with an attempted murder, it is a roller coaster of a read with a gripping plot that will keep you on the edge of your seat until the very last page. Parker just gets better and better.” Danielle Ramsay, The Last Cut, the DI Brady series
 
“In Crook’s Hollow, Robert Parker exposes the dark side of a sleepy English village. Gritty and intense, Crook’s Hollow is an edgy mystery full of damning secrets and family reckonings, all written in Parker’s captivating, true-to-life style that is sure to keep readers turning the page, hungry for more.” Steph Post, A Tree Born Crooked, Lightwood, Walk In The Fire
 
“A pacey read that keeps you guessing until the end.” Torquil MacLeod, the Malmö Mysteries
 
“a visceral, taut, country noir set in the badlands west of Manchester, Crook’s Hollow is a great new novel from Robert Parker. If you liked Catch Me Daddy or the Red Riding Quartet check this out.” Edgar, Ned Kelly & Barry Award Winner Adrian McKinty, Rain Dogs
 
“A breakneck thriller slowed only by its subtle and masterful turns. Robert Parker’s CROOK’S HOLLOW is a book to be relished and read again.” David Joy, The Weight Of This World
 
PREORDER INFO:
 
You can preorder the book direct from the publishers in Texas RIGHT HERE: http://www.blackrosewriting.com/suspensethriller/crookshollow
 
UK readers may wish to order direct from Amazon/Waterstones on release, as there are shipping charges from the USA. Just wanted to let you know!
 
So there you have it! Thank you so much always for supporting me and my books – and have a wonderful New Year!
 
All my best,
 
Robert

The Book That Changed Everything

Post originally published on Literarily Speaking on 13th November 2017 (link).

The Book That Changed Everything

I grew up in Croft, a small village in the north west of the UK, a stone’s throw from Manchester. Only 3,000 people lived there, and it was a sleepy community bordered on all sides by farms. Once a year, they had a village carnival that the whole calendar seemed to revolve around, and the village sports field was covered in small tents of bricabrac sellers, tombola stands, coconut shies, donkey rides, candy floss machines and a beer tent. When I was 12, I had two pounds pocket money from my Mum and Dad, and after gorging on sweets and pop, I ended up at a charity book stand, where stacks of tattered paperbacks sat, each stickered with a price tag.

I saw a copy of Peter Benchley’s ‘Jaws’ for 25p, and having seen the film, I grabbed it (along with a copy of Tom Clancy’s ‘Patriot Games’, which I hadn’t seen and still haven’t got round to reading). Two years previously, Jurassic Park had come out and had blown my mind to smithereens, and I’d watched all the Spielberg movies I could get my hands on. Jaws was one I’d re-watched fairly recently, so the chance to read that same story was one I was not going to miss. I remember that same Saturday night, reading it in bed.

It changed everything, for all sorts of reasons. It was so apparent from the opening paragraphs that this was a different kettle of fish to what I’d been reading previously (no pun intended but I’ll take it). This was an honest-to-God grown up book, for adults. Not for kids. And at twelve I was reading it – I felt like an utter king. I had never read an adult fiction book before, but I knew my thirst for reading had taken me almost to the limits of what kids fiction at the time had to offer.

Two pages in, and it had gone hugely visceral. There was an unapologetic openness to the blood, the matter-of-factness to the carnage that had me reading it three or four times in sheer disbelief. ‘You can actually write that?!’ I kept asking myself. My eyes were opening.

The story was going off in a different direction to the film too, and the characters were changed. The story was fundamentally the same, and again I was asking questions, knowing that the book had come before the film: ‘was Stephen Spielberg allowed to change things!? Can you do that?!’ My expectations of the fiction world was being blasted to bits.

And then, in the book, Ellen Brody had an adulterous moment with Hooper. I almost dropped the book – that was not in the film at all, but the way that the characters and their relationships had been drawn to this point actually had me feeling a tad sympathetic towards her. I was reading and learning about marital strife and alcoholism, and the darker corners of people’s characters that seldom see light. I am blessed to have had a very peaceful, very reliable and love-filled childhood, and this was eye-opening in the grandest of ways. It’s like the blinds to the rest of the world were slowly peeling back, and I could see certain things for the first time.

And then there was a sex scene. An actual sex scene, with the description of anatomy and actions and good Lord all the rest. As a late bloomer, this was pretty watershed. I hadn’t a clue what I was reading, the quaint images of what I’d learned in the rather stuffy sex education classes at school rendered utterly obsolete by Hooper’s frantic tryst with Chief Brody’s wife. I still shake my head with laughter thinking about reading that for the first time, reading the page with my jaw hanging and my eyes widescreen.

 

By the end of the story, and Quint had used a dead dolphin foetus as bait for the great white (again, way way more than what I had bargained for), all bets were off in terms of what fiction could give me. I could never go back to reading kids books, never. A new world was

opened to me, a world where darkness was explored and talked about, where happy endings weren’t a given, and the physical, bare reality of life was given voice. I was writing a lot myself at the time, but I know that nothing was ever the same after that. I still have that book, the one that means everything to me, and I’m sure every reader does too.

 

And you never know – if I had bought an extra stick of rock or bag of penny mix, I might not have had enough coins to take to the book stand in the first place, and may never have even written a book at all.

Life, eh?

Writing From Your Gut – Guest Post For Lori’s Reading Corner

Writing From Your Gut – originally published at Lori’s Reading Corner on 27th July 2017

You need to have guts to be a writer, even right from the start. When you first sit down to write a story, it can be quite daunting. There are millions of books out there, telling you exactly how you should do it, ranging from how you should lay things out, to what pens you should be using, to what word processor is the best. You end up with a bucket-full of decisions to make before you even get to the actual important bit – the story.

But then comes more decisions, more and more books about what story decisions to make, what structures your story should adhere to, what direction your character needs to go. You can be so bogged down in the whole fear of the thing that you can forget the sheer joy of what you are doing. You are creating. You are making something. You are letting your mind build something that only you can decide how it will end.

But how can you make the right decisions and just enjoy the moment? Well, chances are, you’ve already got a fair idea.

Every single day we inhale fiction of some kind, whether it be in the books we love so dearly, the TV shows we binge on Netflix, or even that daft little story behind Candy Crush Saga. And the end result of this is, whether we like it or not, that we get a sort of schooling in drama, in terms of what works and what doesn’t. We develop an ear for it, just through immersing ourselves in it.

So, when you sit down to write your story, just go for it. Don’t be bound by formula or fear of doing something different. Write what feels right to you, and more often than not, if it feels right it usually is right.

I used to get so hung up on whether my characters and situations were too hokey, too contrived, too silly. I used to worry about making decisions for my characters, and whether their dialogue was corny. But then I learned to trust my gut and see what came out at the other end.

When I sit to write, I have the barest skeleton of where I’m going, but absolutely no roadmap. I set up a scenario, and usually have an idea for a scene I want to get to – but no initial thought of how to bridge the two. Then I start writing, let the words flow and the characters develop, and before long the story is making decisions for me, the characters are deciding what they should be doing organically, and you’re away. So much of the time, if you write from your heart and gut, I’m convinced that:

1. you will have a great time.
2. you will write something that in some sense works.

The important thing is to do it. Just let the shackles go, trust your instincts, write your story and go for it.

Forget fear.

Once you’ve got those words on the page, those chapters all done, nobody can take that from you. You did it! Chances are, it won’t be perfect – but you’ve still got your story. You can change things any time you like, but what you can’t change is a story that doesn’t exist. You can’t polish something that just plain isn’t there. But you do have something you can work with.

It’s OK to have a detailed plan, but’s also OK to not have one, and it’s OK to wing it. But whatever way you approach it, just go for it. Write, have fun, enjoy the sheer happiness of creating something and be proud of what you’ve achieved when you’ve written it. And when you look back at what you did, I bet you sit there and say ‘you know, some of this ain’t half bad’. And that’s a start. You can work with that.

Trust yourself. Deep down, even though you might not feel it, you’ve got a fair idea of what you’re doing. Those guts you showed to write in the first place? Listen to them.